On Tuesday, April 10, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer presented the 2018-19 Provincial Budget in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. The document details how our government’s three-year plan to return to a balanced budget is on track with major investments in health care, education, social services and infrastructure, and a steadily improving outlook over the next four years. The difficult decisions in the previous budget were made to help get our province off our dependency on non-renewable resource revenues – and that plan is working. Non-renewable resource revenues make up only 10% of this year’s budget, as opposed to 32% in 2008-09. A record $5.77 billion will improve health care for all Saskatchewan people this year. That includes $3.5 billion for Saskatchewan Health Authority operating funding, up nearly $72 million from total funding provided to the 12 former regional authori- ties in last year’s budget. More than $520,000 is being invested in a new program to ensure that babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals are screened for hearing loss. $2.8 million is being provided to fulfill the government’s commitment to provide individualized funding for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Initial funding of $4,000 per child under the age of six will be provided this year. The Saskatchewan Party Government’s commitment to increase education funding by $30 million was delivered in this budget. Increased funding will help Saskatchewan school divisions continue supporting students by hiring up to 400 teachers and other educational support staff. Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will receive $1.87 billion in school operating funding for the 2018-19 school year, up 1.6 per cent compared to last year. This budget also provides nearly $77 million in child care funding. Together with federal funds, this will support more than 16,000 licensed child care spaces and allow for the addition of 2,500 licensed child care spaces by 2020. More than $10 million in this year’s budget is targeted to those who provide direct daily care to adults with intellectual disabilities or mental health challenges, as well as for direct supports to families and daily care for children in need of protection. This includes funding increases for foster families, community-based organizations that deliver day programs and residential services to people with intellectual disabilities, and other CBOs that provide family-focused services. The budget includes many other important investments in post-secondary education, in highways and infrastructure, in support for municipalities, in innovation and technology, in the agriculture and resource sectors and in trade and export development. Proudly, we are able to make these important investments with no increases to tax rates. All provincial tax rates, including provincial sales tax, income tax and property tax will remain the same. Although there is an ongoing threat from the federal government, this budget contains no carbon tax. A deficit of $365 million is projected for 2018-19. A return to balance is expected in 2019-20 with a modest projected surplus of $6 million. Higher surpluses of $108 million and $212 million respectively are forecast for 2020-21 and 2021-22. Details can be found online at Saskatchewan.ca/budget. Our three-year plan for a balanced budget is on track by controlling government spending with no tax rate increases, delivering high quality services for Saskatchewan people and through measures to keep our economy strong. This supports our vision of ensuring that Saskatchewan is the best place in Canada—to live, work, start a business, to get an education and raise a family.
Warren Michelson, MLA